Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today praised the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of full committee early this morning. The annual defense authorization bill includes provisions to address threats around the globe, restore military readiness and strengthen America’s strategic capabilities.
The FY19 NDAA passed with a bipartisan vote of 60 to 1 and will head to the House floor for consideration later this month.
“Congress has made tremendous progress over the last few months to provide the resources necessary to rebuild our military, but there is still more work to be done,” said Banks. “In order to address today’s challenges and tomorrow’s uncertainties, we must have the most lethal joint force with cutting-edge capabilities, and this bill is a major step in the right direction.”
The legislation includes many initiatives championed by Congressman Banks, including:
- Ultra Electronics USSI: The NDAA includes increased funding for sonobuoy procurement, a critical acoustic sensor used to locate, track and obtain undersea threat criteria. USSI in Columbia City is a leader in sonobuoy production and provides 425 jobs in Indiana’s Third District. The bill also includes report language that requires the Secretary of the Navy to provide Congress with an assessment (by October 1, 2018) of the Navy’s ability to protect against surface ship torpedo threats.
- Harris Corp: The bill contains language that requires the Air Force to develop a plan to provide U.S. Central Command with persistent weather imagery after 2025. The plan is required by March 1, 2019. It also includes Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation (RDT&E) funding for Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Sensor Systems for Weather Satellites and funding Weather System Follow-On Program. Harris, a manufacturer of components used in military weather satellites, employs 551 employees across Indiana and 530 employees in the Third District.
- Indiana National Guard: The bill includes language that requires the Army to do an annual report on equipment modernization and fielding parity between the active component and the reserve component. This provision will ensure that the Army’s active and reserve components are both receiving the resources and training needed to fulfill their missions. Indiana has the fourth largest Army National Guard in the nation.
- Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division: The bill includes funding for further investments in Model Based Systems Engineering in order to develop future hypersonics weapons shore testing capabilities as quickly as possible. Crane in southwest Indiana is integrally involved in the research and development of these high speed weapons.
- Afghanistan Accountability: The bill includes language authored by Rep. Banks that requires the Secretaries of Defense and State to provide Congress with an assessment on the efforts of the Afghanistan government to manage, employ and sustain the equipment and inventory provided through U.S. government taxpayer funds. This initiative will make certain proper assessments are being made in Afghanistan to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.
- Nunn-Lugar Modernization Initiative: The bill includes language authored by Rep. Banks to modernize and strengthen the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. The Nunn-Lugar program is an initiative based on legislation authored by Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) in 1991 to dismantle nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in former Soviet states. It was a resounding success throughout the 1990’s and made the world a safer place by reducing nuclear weapons. The Banks language directs the Secretary of Defense to provide Congress with a report on how to strengthen the Nunn-Lugar program.
- Career Intermission Program: The bill contains legislation authored by Rep. Banks that would make permanent a pilot program that currently allows officers and enlisted service members to take a short “sabbatical” in order to improve work-life balance. The Career Intermission Program (CIP) currently allows officers and enlisted service members to temporarily transfer out of the active duty component and into the Individual Ready Reserve for up to three years while retaining full health care coverage and base privileges, as well as part of their salary. This transfer extends their active duty service requirement by twice their time of leave. The CIP is a highly successful pilot program currently set to expire in 2019.
- Officer Corps Career Expansion: The bill includes language authored by Rep. Banks that directs the Secretary of Defense to brief Congress on the implementation and plans for improvement of the Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program, including how the Secretary provides promotion opportunities for Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) to serve and rise through General or Flag Officer ranks across the services.